MONTGOMERY, AL (dsroadrunners.com) - The Southern States Athletic Conference announced Friday that defending NAIA National Champions Dalton State basketball is their favorite to take home the conference championship. The regular season champion Roadrunners 128 points and six first place votes to ease out Champs William Carey (126 points). Martin Methodist was close behind with 125 points.
Dalton State Coach Tony Ingle calls the assessment an “absolute set up.” All three teams of the top teams competed last season in the National Championship Tournament in Kansas City.
“I’m absolutely shocked that other coaches in our league that compete nationally, year in and year out with a majority of their starters coming back and solid winning traditions would rank us so high,” said Ingle. “Obviously, with only one returning starter (Jordan Bowling) and 12 new players that have never played a minute for the Roadrunners it’s an absolute set up by my fellow coaches. However, we do realize that all season long we will be striving to improve as a team.”
The coach noted that past success does not guarantee future results. “We will be striving all season long to improve as a team,” said Ingle. “Vanguard University won the 2014 National Championship and did not even get to the NAIA National Tournament the next year. It is really difficult to get to the NAIA National Tournament and it is not fair to our current players that are thriving to learn about their coaches, teammates and a new system to be tagged and targeted with that extra burden of everyone wanting to beat a National Championship team. We will stay positive, work hard, and embrace it and hope we can make our administration, faculty, students, boosters and fans proud.”
The Roadrunner basketball program is 58-8 in the first two years of existence. They completed this past season with 3 wins and four losses to become just the second SSAC team to cut down the nets in Kansas City. In addition to Bowling, Dalton State returns seniors Jamaine Burrey from Columbus, GA. and Nate Terry from Niceville, FL.; and sophomore Deshawn Ruffin from Jacksonville, FL. Bowling has been named by Sporting News as an NAIA Pre-Season All American Honorable Mention.
The 12 men’s teams and points are: 1) Dalton State (128), 2) William Carey (126), 3) Martin Methodist (125), 5) Faulkner (121), 5) Bethel (94), 6) Loyola (70), 7) Auburn Montgomery (61), 8) Mobile (69), 9) Middle Georgia State (55), 10) Brewton-Parker (41), 11) Blue Mountain (36) and 12) Coastal Georgia (20).
Dalton State basketball will host the annual Blue and White Scrimmage on Tuesday, October 27th, at 7:00 p.m. The team will then go on the road to play Lindsey Wilson College and Campbellsville University in the Lou Cunningham Classic in Campbellsville Classic on October 30th and 31st. There will be two more “away” games before the first home game… a conference tilt with Blue Mountain College on November 19th. All home games will again be played at Mashburn Arena in the Dalton Convention Center.